How to Make Kombucha (and Home on the Range)

We drove out past Elbert to our friends’ house and arrived on their doorstep just as it started to rain.  The turkey followed to see what we were up to.  One of her pups had gotten into the calf pen but couldn’t get out.  Her other sweet dog snuggled up to the wood stove in their large dog house.  Two calves lay under a tarp trying to gather strength.  Two were in the field jumping in the rain.  One had died earlier that day.  Mud started to form around the ranch.  Evening had come.

Inside, the house was filled with children squealing by, grown ups gathered in the kitchen, beers being passed out.  Neighbors dropping by, laundry on the couch waiting to be folded, chili on the stove, laughter in the air, farm life.  While Doug entertained the kids with his juggling act, Alli showed me how to make kombucha.

This was important because Doug and I have gotten somewhat addicted to the stuff and at three dollars a bottle (x2 every day), it was high time I learned.  What is kombucha, you ask?

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Kombucha is a sweetened, fermented tea beverage that has been around and has been enjoyed for over 2000 years.  It contains a SCOBY (a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) or mother, much like vinegar.  And like vinegar it contains about .06% alcohol.  Quite negligible.  The mother looks like a mushroom and contains probiotics used to detoxify and aid the digestive system and other organs.  It contains glucosamine which helps with joints and the skeletal system.  (Any good thing undergoes scrutiny in the US, pestering from authorities, and non-sense speculations, but as in herbalism, anything that has healed for thousands of years is good enough for me.)  I feel better, more energetic, and healthier when I drink the stuff.  Alli taught me to make a gallon at a time.

  • Boil 3 1/2 quarts of water
  • Add one extra large tea bag and one cup of sugar.
  • Turn off heat and let tea brew until it is at room temperature.
  • In clean gallon container add 2 cups of reserved kombucha.
  • Pour in tea.
  • Separate SCOBY on a clean plate with clean hands and place part in friend’s new batch, and in her own new batch.  You only need to separate it when it is over 1/2 inch thick or when friends come by seeking mothers. (She started hers by using a live bottle of kombucha from the store and let it sit in the tea mixture for three weeks.)
  • Let sit for 5-7 days on counter with cheesecloth secured over opening.
  • Every week, brew a new batch and add the reserved 2 cups and move SCOBY over to new gallon jar.

With finished kombucha, place in a jar 3/4 full and add frozen fruit, lemons, or ginger…anything that sounds delicious and let sit on the counter for three days until carbonated.

After that made we wandered downstairs to see the baby turkeys.  Alli picked up one of the little birds to show us.  Round the clock bottle feeding calves, endless chores and housework, she smiled, “It’s a lot of chaos, but we’re having a great time.”

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